Students often develop Math anxiety which is frightening and takes the joy out of learning. Fear of the subject keeps children away from practicing math, leave aside giving it their hundred percent. The fact doesn’t change that Math is required in our day-to-day lives. Budgeting household expenditure requires math, cooking requires estimation of ingredients used for preparation, animation & designing require knowledge of angles & shapes, and even coding involves some logical acumen.
Math When formulae seem tough to decipher and equations are too complex to apply, children resort to rote learning techniques. Learning tables do require some rote learning skills, but the same can’t be applied to other operations. It’s impossible to mug up the answer and reproduce it in exams, as in math the questions need to be understood first, then one needs to apply problem-solving acumen, and attempt it logically in a step-by-step manner. Especially when it comes to dealing with word problems, students will need to have a robust conceptual understanding.
Developing Conceptual Understanding in Math
It’s important to first encourage children to feel more positive towards the subject. Only when learners find some benefit behind studying the subject, do they actually start to appreciate it.
#1 Build Confidence
Having faith and believing in oneself, is half a battle won. Building a strong foundation and someone to help through with the subject is the basis of developing a good hold of numbers. Educators need to be an accomplice not only in solving mathematical equations but give children the confidence to pursue wholeheartedly. The fear of getting the answer wrong, leading to frustration is quite normal, but the attitude of ‘not giving up’ and ‘continuous efforts need to be inculcated.
#2 Getting Involved
‘Learning – teaching’ is a two-way process. Simply solving sums on the board from the textbook is not only going to make math really boring but barely motivates kids to develop an interest in the subject. IB Schools across the globe, including Dubai & other GCC Countries, follow an inclusive learning process where the educator teaches children as per the interest and style of the class. This essentially means, making math learning ‘fun’. Be unconventional by getting children involved in playing math quizzes or get them to undertake group assignments & compete with other math geniuses in class. Ultimate students will come to like math and enjoy the process of learning.
#3 Gradual Pace of Learning
Not everyone cracks a difficult math equation in the first attempt! Start with smaller problems that have easy solutions and at a later stage increase difficulty. Gradual progression makes the child more confident in dealing with numbers. Give students ample time & opportunity to practice, recall, and apply the concept. Also, some students are fast learners in class, while others take their time to grasp. Therefore, accommodate the needs of all students and maybe pay extra attention to the slow learners by devoting time to help them after-class.
#4 Practice & Practice
Acing at math is all about practice, practice & more practice. The more you practice, the faster you will be able to solve sums and find shortcuts or tricks to find the solutions. Mental math usually requires a lot of repetition, in order to quickly calculate something like; x + 29 = 63, what is the value of ‘x’? But who says math homework can’t be fun? There are math-specific apps available for download on iOS and Android devices which entertain students while reinforcing math concepts taught in school. Some popular apps downloaded in UAE are; Maths Shed, Mathmateer, Mathseeds, Mathspace, etc.
To conclude, we would say it is important to focus on conceptual fluency in mathematics by developing the child’s critical thinking capabilities. A mindset of ‘why to solve and ‘how to solve’ must be ingrained, so that the learner is immersed in the solving process, rather than concentrating on the procedural complexities.
Mathspace brings together all learning touch-points together by offering video lessons, downloadable textbooks, and active practice, for the math learners. Students get instant feedback and are encouraged to practice solving problems on worksheets. This learning platform has a collection of over 50,000 worksheets and thus parents are pleased to adapt Mathspace over & above math lessons taught in schools across the Middle East & other regions of the world.